Adelson buys Trump; Caesars, MGM stiff players

We always knew Sheldon Adelson was fundamentally shameless — remember when he would gush with praise of Red China? — and this photo of him cuddling up to sometime anti-Semite Steve Bannon just proves it. What’s newsworthy, though, is why Adelson may have been rather frosted at the White House for omitting any mention of Jews from its International Holocaust Remembrance Day proclamation, a move that was blasted in the pages of Adelson’s Haaretz newspaper (a periodical that Adelson supposedly examines with a fine-tooth comb).

It has been revealed that Adelson gave $5 million toward Donald Trump‘s $107 million inauguration (a figure that gives me relief that such things are privately funded) and probably expected greater deference from the Trump administration after being so “george” toward it. After all, he’d just given more towards a presidential inauguration than anyone in history — and we all know how important to being #1 in anything is to Adelson. At least Haaretz‘s ire seems to have redounded to Adelson’s benefit, as he was soon invited to dinner with the Trumps. If that $5 million was meant to buy access, it was a good gamble on Adelson’s part, especially Attorney General Jeff Sessions apparently making good on a promise to reexamine the Federal Wire Act, an Adelson obsession.

Better to have Adelson giving you advice than fundraising coordinator — and Colony Capital CEO — Tom Barrack. The latter was such an incompetent boob as a casino owner (the polar opposite of Adelson’s business brilliance) that I’m surprised he didn’t take the $107 million to the track and bet it all on a three-legged horse. His ego will surely never recover from having a GOP dinner thrown in his honor — enough to make him put aside his Stephenie Meyer book collection for the night.

* Part of Mark Frissora‘s regimen as CEO of Caesars Entertainment appears to entail stiffing video poker players on free drinks. “It’s become very frustrating with all the nickel-and-diming,” said a Canadian customer of the green and red lights on the machine that indicate whether you’ve paid enough to qualify for a drink or not. It’s certainly one way of calibrating a customer’s value but it’s also an example of squeezing a nickel until it bleeds. Caesars already has a bad rap with the video poker crowd. Where’s the value in micromanaging comped drinks in this fashion? On the one hand, casinos fret about getting fewer and fewer dollars from the gaming floor. On the other, they pull stunts like this. (Don’t even get me started on paid parking!)

MGM Resorts International is also guilty of bean-counting. Rationalized spokesman Alan Feldman, “Instead of trying to keep track of someone’s play, you have a chance to say ‘Where are you from?’” One player calls the new wave “insulting” and it certainly is when a casino spokesman disparages players in the manner of Caesars’ Richard Broome, who told the Wall Street Journal, “The only one who doesn’t like it is the person who wants to milk the system, get free drinks and not spend any money.” There’s a word for that, and it begins with “b” and ends with “t.” As the aptly named Lily Paradise put it, “I had a $200 drink the other day.” Drinks are still free on the casino floor, but we don’t expect that to last. In the end, the losers are the casinos who micromanage play so much that gamblers go when they can get — pardon the pun — a better deal.

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